Australia are looking for a new national rugby union head coach after Michael Cheika stood down following the Wallabies’ quarter-final exit from the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
They had previously gone two rounds further four years ago when runners-up to neighbours and rivals New Zealand. This feels like a watershed moment for rugby union in Australia, so who are some of the rumoured candidates to succeed Cheika as Wallabies boss?
England head coach Eddie Jones is a Tasmanian native and has, of course, coached his home country before. That four-year stint lasted from 2001 to 2005 and included a Tri-Nations championship and back-to-back Bledisloe Cup triumphs.
Jones took Australia to the 2003 Rugby World Cup final where the Wallabies lost to England and Jonny Wilkinson’s famous drop goal. He has since coached Japan’s national team and took over the Red Rose at the end of 2015.
Consecutive Six Nations titles followed for England, who are the hot 4/5 outright favourites in the rugby union betting on the 2020 tournament with bet365. Jones is still tied to the RFU for another two years, however.
There are also believed to have been talks between Jones and English rugby chiefs about him staying on beyond his current deal that ends in 2021 – perhaps for the next Rugby World Cup in 2023. Australia face a fight on their hands to get their countryman back.
Yet rumours persist that the opportunity to take charge of the Wallabies again may be offered to him. Jones has spent so much of his coaching career in international rugby that it would foolish to discount a second spell.
Glasgow Warriors boss Dave Rennie is a highly regarded coach throughout the Pacific following stints with the Hurricanes, the All Blacks Under-20s and the Waikato Chiefs. He moved away from his native New Zealand for his current Scottish club job in 2017.
Rennie was also involved in regional setups within his homeland. The All Blacks are looking for a successor to long-serving but outgoing boss Steve Hansen. Any Australian interest in Rennie may depend on whether or not New Zealand want him as a replacement.
Comparisons have been made between this current situation and when the Wallabies brought Robbie Deans in as their first-ever Kiwi boss after he lost out on the All Blacks post to Graham Henry in 2007. If something similar happens here, then New Zealand’s loss could be Australia’s gain.
Another Kiwi candidate for the Wallabies could be Crusaders coach Scott Robertson. Part of the Christchurch club’s unbeaten 2002 campaign as a player, this former back-row forward spent several years with the Canterbury Rugby Union upon hanging up his boots.
A return to Crusaders was written in the stars, however, and – since taking up the role – Robertson has landed a hat-trick of Super Rugby titles. That winning mentality is what Australia need in their new boss.
Cheika leaves the Wallabies sixth in the world rugby rankings – only third best in the Southern Hemisphere behind global kings South Africa and the All Blacks. As Robertson has Australia’s Rugby Championship opposition well scouted from those recent Super Rugby successes, he brings plenty to the table.